Musings from the Starting Line — Road Schooling

The flexibility of homeschooling is just amazing. I'm a stay at home mom, and my husband lost his job in early October. To make the most of actually having some family time, we took a quick cross country road trip. While we skipped all of the big sights, there was so much to see along the way that we could build curriculum for years based upon places we saw and ground we touched. Next trip, the boys will take on planning roles and over time will step into budgeting both time and money for road trips as well as researching the places to visit along the way. Honestly, I'm still amazed at how much learning you can wring out of a road trip. It makes me sad that conventionally schooled kids miss out on this type of opportunity.

The plan was to take a month or two visiting with family out west, but a job opportunity not to be missed came up and he is back to work already. Three and a half days to California, and a nearly record-setting 3 day return was actually so much fun for the boys that they want to drive for our next trip, not fly. While we skipped the big attractions, we didn't skip the learning. The macro changes across the country, from rolling glacial hills to flat prairie to the rockies was nearly overwhelming on its own.

Stopping at the rest stop on the San Rafael Swell, an anticline where the high ground is 50 million years old and is surrounded by newer ground, was fascinating to them. The short hike at that rest stop introduced the way plants adapt to their environment, learning about the homes of the mice and rabbits we saw, and looking at the different types of soil. And this was just one rest stop!

On the way home, the Welcome Center crossing into Oklahoma gave the boys the opportunity to touch cotton branches straight from the field. They also filled up our library with booklets and even books provided free from the Oklahoma Tourism Board. When I mentioned that we homeschool, she handed me several other books and said to share with my homeschooling friends back home that they are happy to send more free resources. For older students, it would be fun to compare how much is history and how much is marketing.

I am so thankful that homeschooling allowed our family to take advantage of unplanned time off by packing up the car with the family and our dog and hitting the road. It also wouldn't have been possible without budgeting and building up an emergency fund ahead of time. To say I was a personal finance nerd before was an understatement, but now that planning financially for both the good and the bad gave our family the ability to seize this opportunity I'm even worse. If you want to hear more about budgeting, email me. No sales involved - I have zero profit motive in my life right now, and that is tremendously freeing.

-Erica Layon